Talking Trucks

I have a travel trailer.  A travel trailer requires a vehicle to tow it. Sometimes, these can be SUV’s, sometimes a truck. In my case, I have an “ultra light” travel trailer, the gross weight — the maximum weight of the trailer — is only 6500 lbs. So I can use a light duty truck to pull the vehicle.

I owned a 2012 Dodge* Ram 1500 at the time I bought my travel trailer. I was actually quite concerned about the ability for the vehicle to tow my travel trailer fully loaded. For one, salesmen were telling me different things than the Dodge literature. A salesman can’t be trusted because they are trying to get sales. Once you are out the door, the salesman doesn’t give a damn about you! Here’s what I figured:

  1. The model Ram I purchased according to Dodge was capable of towing roughly 8500 lbs.
  2. The salesmen were trying to get me to buy a travel trailer between 8,000 & 10,000 lbs.
  3. I would never buy a travel trailer that my vehicle couldn’t comfortably tow.

After towing the travel trailer a few times with my Ram 1500, I decided to upgrade the vehicle. For one, it was clear the vehicle was getting close to its capability. Also, we are planning a long trip and we wanted our next truck to tow the trailer easily no matter where we went.

I ended up buying a Ram 2500 from a dealership in Houston. It wasn’t a “brand loyalty” decision either. I have a 1994 Mazda B2300. It’s actually a Ford Ranger and it’s been far more reliable than any vehicle I’ve had. I did decide, however that Ford and Ram were the only competitors. I decided to check out the 2015 diesel editions of these trucks. After a significant amount of research, I test drove the F250 Lariat Ultimate and the Ram 2500 Laramie. Both trucks were way rougher rides than my Ram 1500, but I felt the Ram 2500 had an advantage in its ride. The F250 had an advantage in overall workmanship, and comfort features. One of the interesting things about diesel engines are the missing  mileage numbers from the window sticker. It’s hard to figure out the mileage. After a few You Tube videos, I was somewhat convinced the Ram 2500 received better mileage. That’s not why you buy a truck, so I checked out the F250 and the Ram 2500 towing numbers. Of course, the Ford is superior but Ford also uses a proprietary methodology to arrive at its numbers. Ram is using a standard to arrive at their numbers, as of 2015.

Money. After not finding a huge difference between the trucks, I found a national dealership (AutoNation), and worked with some local dealerships here in San Antonio. I learned like everything here, there’s a markup. San Antonio is one of the closest large markets to Mexico. When Mexicans shop here, they tend not to engage in haggling. I worked with AutoNation Ford in Katy, TX. When I gave a San Antonio dealership the Katy dealership numbers, they thanked me for their consideration and told me to take the Katy offer.

Meanwhile, the local Ram dealership had told me I had their rock-bottom numbers, which were about $2K higher than the AutoNation Spring (Ram) dealership. I set up an appointment and went over to Houston to pick up my new truck. It was ultimately a difference of $2,000 which got me in a Ram. I’m happy with my purchase, and I’d do the same thing again.




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Black Thursday

Went to Wal-Mart Thanksgiving evening. This year, we don’t need much of anything, but we’re destined to buy a lot of crap anyway. There’s gifts for the grandkids and the odd household appliance.

Here’s the way Black Thursday works, if you really don’t need stuff. You go to the store, wait for the animals (yes, a Wal-Mart employee referred to the people fighting to get deep fryers as “animals”) to get through the stuff they want, then pick up what you need at the cut-rate price. Get to the registers and get the hell out of there.

However, here’s the way Black Thursday works if you’re an animal.















You see, after I got my crap, I wanted to see what everyone else was doing. Human curiosity. I went by the on-sale televisions, and they had a 32″ Roku TV for $125. A police officer was standing by the TV’s with some Wal-Mart employees. Before the designated time, people started grabbing some of the TV’s. The police officer told the people to wait. They stopped, then started grabbing again. The police officer shouted for them to stop, but they didn’t. The police officer blew his whistle, but to no avail. The people just took all the televisions. I took photos. They started taking the 40″ and 32″ Samsung televisions as well. All the Roku TV’s were gone in less than two minutes.

I just picked up a Samsung 32″ after the crazies had mostly left. I’m going to mount it in my travel trailer. We were out of the store in 10 minutes.

The whole point is, there are very few items on Black Thursday or Black Friday that are worth the scrums and fights people get into. Every Black Weekend event I’ve been to, there have been fights over crap, but each one has had deeply slashed priced items left over well after the initial crush.



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So, What About Aldon Smith?

This website has crushed Greg Hardy, more for his enablers than anything else.

So, what about Aldon Smith?

We at BSP HQ do not engage in excuse-making for our own favorite team’s players. We don’t suck up to said players in the mistaken belief that the only thing that matters is on-the-field performance. Smith has multiple events leading to his suspension.

Aldon Smith is paying for his transgressions with a one-year suspension. Unlike Greg Hardy, Smith has something to say:

“First, I want to thank the Raiders, my teammates, the fans, our coaches and our owner for supporting me throughout all of this,” Smith said in the Raiders’ news release. “I am taking this time to work on myself and become the man I need to be, my team and organization needs me to be and I know I can be.”

Bill Williamson from ESPN doesn’t believe Smith will be back with the Raiders:

Truthfully, the Raiders hope they don’t need to sign Smith when his suspension is over. They will have to fill his spot in the offseason via the draft or free agency. The Raiders are poised to have the most salary-cap room in the NFL next year, and they will clearly earmark some of that room for a pass-rusher.

While the Raiders are going to the draft to add some depth, they certainly will bring back Smith in some capacity. Smith’s numbers were down, but he didn’t have a full training camp, either. Reggie McKenzie has maneuvered the Raiders into a great position salary-cap wise, but it might be more Mark Davis making that call.



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Let’s Talk Traffic


Hell Road I-880

I mentioned in my last post, I visited the San Francisco Bay area last weekend. I lived in the Bay Area for five years, and it’s at the top of the places I’ve lived in the United States. In fact, there’s only two reasons why I’m not living there today:

  1. $$$$ — ridiculously expensive to live there
  2.  Traffic — travel distance is measured in minutes or hours; not miles.

I had a co-worker who whined about San Antonio’s traffic. It’s laughable. I have another friend who posted an article stating I-66, a highway west of Washington, D.C., had the worst traffic in the nation. I won’t dispute that statement. I’ve been on Interstate 666 both east and west bound, it’s without question, terrible.  You can indeed find yourself stuck in traffic at 10:00 PM. Unfortunately, Bay Area traffic, just like its housing prices is without parallel. The route I’m talking about is Interstate 880, a highway looping from about Berkeley to San Jose. Hell Road 880 is typically filled with traffic around the clock, seven days a week. I lived in Fremont and commuted to Sunnyvale. The only time I’d venture on to I-880 was on weekends. As the photo above demonstrates — I took it at 2PM on a Saturday afternoon — there are no respites from the traffic. Don’t get on me for taking the picture. I was in park. With the vehicle off and the brake on. Didn’t move for five minutes. On Monday morning, on my way to Oakland Airport (a highly underrated airport for traveling, by the way) it took me 54 minutes northbound from Alvarado-Niles to 98th Street.

I didn’t have the misfortune of cruising the Bay Area’s other high-volume highways. It’s easy enough to remember them, because they surely didn’t get better. Battlefield 101, through the heart of Silicon Valley certainly wouldn’t get better. CA-237, the Zoo from Milpitas to Mountain View is likely still horrible. Interstate 680’s traffic was so awesomely bad, an overturned HAZMAT carrier once caused a 25-mile backup. People in the midst of the backup called into work and took a sick day rather than gut it out for seven hours waiting to crawl through Milpitas. I remember I-680 because I would get my headset out and call my mom on the East Coast while rates were low. We’d get about 20 minutes to talk on the ride. That’s the one good thing — the only good thing about that traffic: I would have never had that time to talk to my mother if it wasn’t for the 227,000 people making that daily commute. For that, I-680, I owe you.

But I won’t sit in your travesty of traffic any more, either.

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Long Weekend in Oakland

I went out to Oakland on a long weekend and saw the Raiders get beaten by the Minnesota Vikings.

Key term was “beaten.” It wasn’t a game where you say “should have, could have”, and think that could have been a win. Don’t sleep on the Vikings. It was not a loss, but getting whipped by the better team. I see where people think the Patterson kickoff return made the difference, but it’s not true. The Raiders were in trouble all day. Minnesota has Adrian Peterson, a true Hall-of-Famer, a defense of no-names that puts pressure on quarterbacks and stops the run; and Teddy Bridgewater.

Let me discuss Teddy Bridgewater for a second. I couldn’t find a Vikings fan who really likes the guy, but what I saw is the reason that team is 7-2: The Raiders put a lot of pressure on Bridgewater. He’s not making the big glaring mistake. The guy is athletic enough to get out of tough situations. It wasn’t pretty but they won, which is all that matters.

Meanwhile, Derek Carr had some moments, but I’ll tell you what: he threw some not-so-good balls, and he saw way more pressure than he normally does. Particularly glaring to me was the final ball Terrence Newman picked off, and I saw it all the way. Carr threw a flat ball to Andre Holmes and gave him almost no chance to make a play. That was the pick before Peterson’s 80-yard run.

After the game, some Vikings fans were laughing at the Raiders. My friend said “ha, how about Super Bowl 11?”

LMAO, the people laughing at the Raiders weren’t even born when Super Bowl 11 was played. LMAO.


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It Happens When You Go RVing

I should title all the campouts with the name of the town where we camp. We had decided to go a week ago, but we didn’t make up our minds until Friday night.

We left to go camping Saturday afternoon. We ended up meeting up with and joining an RV club, which I will write about later. It was fantastic. Fantastic!

I want you to understand this about RVing: It’s one of the greatest things ever. I mean the lifestyle. I previously told you before about it, but its something I can’t emphasize enough: RVing is where you meet the greatest human beings ever. We were at a town named Kerrville, TX. One gentleman was taking the tonneau cover off his truck, when I met him. He laid the cover down and we went off to talk; he said the tonneau cover would be fine where it was. We returned four hours later and there it was. That doesn’t happen in the real world. That happens in the RV world. If you’re in the RV world and a real RVer, you are part of a team. A great big team of awesome people. A team that wants to help you; wants you to get better at RVing and wants to learn from you. You are respectable; you like the challenges, you like meeting other people and enjoying them.

I can’t say enough about RVing and the group of people who are serious about being RVers.

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Put The Phone Away

Just saw on Good Morning America, where a Texas lady had gone on a European cruise and ended up getting a ~$3,000 phone bill. Seems she picked the wrong plan from the wrong provider, AT$T Wireless. Once ABC News got involved, AT$T erased the whole bill. How nice.


I, unfortunately, did not choose the same route. I’m not nearly as old as she is, so I would have been a different story. “Dude screws up, AT$T forces payment of huge phone bill with interest.” Of course, when we went on the European cruise, I didn’t pile up such a ginormous bill either. Her plan wasn’t for cruise ships. Mine wasn’t either, but my bill ended up “only” around $250. My mistake was shutting the phone off, putting it in the safe and forgetting about it.

That is, until I heard the damn thing ringing. I had received a bunch of text messages, while on the Med.

I was in roaming mode on the ocean; I hadn’t shut it off completely. Fortunately, I had the ringer on, otherwise the thing would have been on until we reached our first port. You have to carry your phone with you on excursions, else if you got lost or robbed, you are completely done. 

Our new tactic is to not use the phone at all if you can avoid it. Remove the battery unless you are using an iPhone, then completely shut it off. You might want to get a Go Phone and a money card, and live like that to prevent outrages while overseas cruising. Our last cruise, I shut my phone down and stowed it until we reached Hawaii. Other than a few calls and texts I made in Canada, it was a complete success. 

When we cruise Europe next, I’m using a Go Phone or something similar. And yes, there will be a next cruise to Europe. Soon.

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